Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Great Lady

guest-posted by Armadillo Joe

From one Texan in honor of another. Funny that I was just talking about her with the proprietor of this website about three hours ago. I had forgotten the date until surfing the interwebs.

For you, Molly, on the 2nd anniversary of your untimely passing, I reprint in its entirety the thing you wrote that got me through the ungodly mess that has been George W. Bush's 8-year reign of torture, and how quaint it all seems now, written as it was early in his tenure -- before he really got the horror rolling. If only we had known...

Call Me a Bush-Hater
By Molly Ivins, The Progressive. Posted November 14, 2003.

Sneering, jeering, bad manners, hideous diplomacy, threats, demands, lies, arrogance, bluster, tax cuts for the rich. And you wonder why we think he's a lousy president?

Among the more amusing cluckings from the right lately is their appalled discovery that quite a few Americans actually think George W. Bush is a terrible president.

Robert Novak is quoted as saying in all his 44 years of covering politics, he has never seen anything like the detestation of Bush. Charles Krauthammer managed to write an entire essay on the topic of "Bush-haters" in Time magazine as though he had never before come across a similar phenomenon.

Oh, I stretch memory way back, so far back, all the way back to--our last president. Almost lost in the mists of time though it is, I not only remember eight years of relentless attacks from Clinton-haters, I also notice they haven't let up yet. Clinton-haters accused the man of murder, rape, drug running, sexual harassment, financial chicanery, and official misconduct. And they accuse his wife of even worse.

For eight long years, this country was a zoo of Clinton-haters. Any idiot with a big mouth and a conspiracy theory could get a hearing on radio talk shows and "Christian" broadcasts and nutty Internet sites. People with transparent motives, people paid by tabloid magazines, people with known mental problems, ancient Clinton enemies with notoriously racist pasts--all were given hearings, credence, and air time. Sliming Clinton was a sure road to fame and fortune on the right, and many an ambitious young rightwing hit man like David Brock, who has since made full confession, took that golden opportunity.

And these folks didn't stop with verbal and printed attacks. From the day Clinton was elected to office, he was the subject of the politics of personal destruction. They went after him with a multimillion-dollar smear campaign funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the rightwing billionaire. They went after him with lawsuits funded by rightwing legal foundations (Paula Jones), they got special counsels appointed to investigate every nitpicking nothing that ever happened (Filegate, Travelgate), and they never let go of that hardy perennial Whitewater.

After all this time and all those millions of dollars wasted, no one has ever proved that the Clintons did a single thing wrong. Bill Clinton lied about a pathetic, squalid affair that was none of anyone else's business anyway, and for that they impeached the man and dragged this country through more than a year of the most tawdry, ridiculous, unnecessary pain. The day President Clinton tried to take out Osama bin Laden with a missile strike, every right-winger in America said it was a case of "wag the dog." He was supposedly trying to divert our attention from the much more breathtakingly important and serious matter of Monica Lewinsky. And who did he think he was to make us focus on some piffle like bin Laden?

"The puzzle is where this depth of feeling comes from," mused the ineffable Mr. Krauthammer. Gosh, what a puzzle that is. How could anyone not be just crazy about George W. Bush? "Whence the anger?" asks Krauthammer. "It begins of course with the 'stolen' election of 2000 and the perception of Bush's illegitimacy."

I'd say so myself, yes, I would. I was in Florida during that chilling post-election fight, and am fully persuaded to this good day that Al Gore actually won Florida, not to mention getting 550,000 more votes than Bush overall. But I also remember thinking, as the scene became eerier and eerier, "Jeez, maybe we should just let them have this one, because Republican wing-nuts are so crazy, their bitterness would poison Gore's whole presidency." The night Gore conceded the race in one of the most graceful and honorable speeches I have ever heard, I was in a ballroom full of Republican Party flacks who booed and jeered through every word of it.

One thing I acknowledge about the right is that they're much better haters than liberals are. Your basic liberal--milk of human kindness flowing through every vein, and heart bleeding over everyone from the milk-shy Hottentot to the glandular obese--is pretty much a strikeout on the hatred front. Maybe further out on the left you can hit some good righteous anger, but liberals, and I am one, are generally real wusses. Guys like Rush Limbaugh figured that out a long time ago--attack a liberal and the first thing he says is, "You may have a point there."

To tell the truth, I'm kind of proud of us for holding the grudge this long. Normally, we'd remind ourselves that we have to be good sports, it's for the good of the country, we must unite behind the only president we've got, as Lyndon used to remind us. If there are still some of us out here sulking, "Yeah, but they stole that election," well, good. I don't think we should forget that.

But, onward. So George Dubya becomes president, having run as a "compassionate conservative," and what do we get? Hell's own conservative and dick for compassion.

His entire first eight months was tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for the rich, and he lied and said the tax cuts would help average Americans. Again and again, the "average" tax cut would be $1,000. That means you get $100, and the millionaire gets $92,000, and that's how they "averaged" it out. Then came 9/11, and we all rallied. Ready to give blood, get out of our cars and ride bicycles, whatever. Shop, said the President. And more tax cuts for the rich.

By now, we're starting to notice Bush's bait-and-switch. Make a deal with Ted Kennedy to improve education and then fail to put money into it. Promise $15 billion in new money to combat AIDS in Africa (wow!) but it turns out to be a cheap con, almost no new money. Bush comes to praise a job training effort, and then cuts the money. Bush says AmeriCorps is great, then cuts the money. Gee, what could we possibly have against this guy? We go along with the war in Afghanistan, and we still don't have bin Laden.

Then suddenly, in the greatest bait-and-switch of all time, Osama bin doesn't matter at all, and we have to go after Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11. But he does have horrible weapons of mass destruction, and our president "without doubt," without question, knows all about them, even unto the amounts--tons of sarin, pounds of anthrax. So we take out Saddam Hussein, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, the Iraqis are not overjoyed to see us.

By now, quite a few people who aren't even liberal are starting to say, "Wha the hey?" We got no Osama, we got no Saddam, we got no weapons of mass destruction, the road map to peace in the Middle East is blown to hell, we're stuck in this country for $87 billion just for one year and no one knows how long we'll be there. And still poor Mr. Krauthammer is hard-put to conceive how anyone could conclude that George W. Bush is a poor excuse for a President.

Chuck, honey, it ain't just the 2.6 million jobs we've lost: People are losing their pensions, their health insurance, the cost of health insurance is doubling, tripling in price, the Administration wants to cut off their overtime, and Bush was so too little, too late with extending unemployment compensation that one million Americans were left high and dry. And you wonder why we think he's a lousy president?

Sure, all that is just what's happening in people's lives, but what we need is the Big Picture. Well, the Big Picture is that after September 11, we had the sympathy of every nation on Earth. They all signed up, all our old allies volunteered, everybody was with us, and Bush just booted all of that away. Sneering, jeering, bad manners, hideous diplomacy, threats, demands, arrogance, bluster.

"In Afghanistan, Bush rode a popular tide; Iraq, however, was a singular act of presidential will," says Krauthammer.

You bet your ass it was. We attacked a country that had done nothing to us, had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and turns out not to have weapons of mass destruction.

It is not necessary to hate George W. Bush to think he's a bad president. Grownups can do that, you know. You can decide someone's policies are a miserable failure without lying awake at night consumed with hatred.

Poor Bush is in way over his head, and the country is in bad shape because of his stupid economic policies.

If that makes me a Bush-hater, then sign me up.
I wish she had lived to see Barack Hussein Obama become our president.

We miss you, Molly.

Welcome Back to the 1980s

Guest posted by Fraulein

So our national economic picture is back to pretty much what it was in the bleak 1980s recession (thank you, Ronald Reagan). And it's about to get even worse:

Another 2 million or more jobs will vanish this year, economists predict.
This raises a number of questions for me:

1. Will conservatives/Republicans/people who voted for George W. Bush/people who voted for John McCain ever admit the direct link between GOP policies and the economy plunging into the shitter?

2. Will any of the Republicans in Congress now actually work with President Obama to try to make things better? (I know, I know, the idea makes me laugh too.)

3. What is going to happen to the 401K system? Since, like many Americans, I'm relying on this for my retirement, this question is a somewhat urgent one for me. I'm frankly kind of tired of hearing, "Oh, you're only 40 -- it will bounce back." When? How much of it will bounce back? Will I now have to work until I'm 80?

4. Will Obama stick to his guns and do what needs to be done to keep the Republicans in check and bring us back from the brink? I sure as hell hope so.

What do you think -- are those of us with 401Ks completely screwed? Will the GOP obstructionism continue unabated?

Cross-posted on Purple Ink

Must Reads

Adam Liptak: Supreme Court Steps Closer to Repeal of Evidence Ruling

Paul Krugman: Health Care Now

Betsy Moon: What Would Molly Think?

The Rude Pundit: They're Losing Their Fucking Minds, Part 2 (Arm(e)y of Dicks Edition) and Regarding Motherfuckers (Republican Edition)


Doctor Biobrain: Nihilist of the Day: Barack Obama

Obama's Weekly Address - Jan. 31, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan

Friday, January 30, 2009

They all look alike...

guest-posted by Armadillo Joe

So, once again the Rethugli-goons in America's modern Nixonized GOP prove just how little distance they've actually been able to put between the Southern Strategy Dixiecrats of forty years ago and the tattered remnants of today's post-W imploding regional party with little influence beyond a collection of states guilty of treason a century and a half ago, a treason committed in defense of an ugly "peculiar institution" our nation had to fight a bloody civil war to repudiate.

Because Michael Steele is now the GOP chair.

They are so myopic about what is wrong with their party, about how little they've evolved from their Dixiecrat mid-wifing in the violence and turmoil of Nixon's America, that they actually believe all the toxic drum-up-the-base "affirmative action" rhetoric their reactionary hate-radio mouthpieces spew onto the nation's airwaves. They promoted a black guy for the head job in their country club because the other team got one to run the whole damned country.

I guess they figured they oughta get themselves a Negro, too.

Which lays bare the embarrasing fact that, as hard as they try to hide and obfuscate their readily apparent obsession with race, racism and racial issues, they still (forty-five years after MLK so eloquently bid us not to) only evaluate people by the color of their skin and not the content of their character. They are such a pathetic collection of fuddy-duddies bound for history's dustbin that even though they are able to dimly recognize that the Big O is, yes, an extraordinary black man, to the bulk of the people who voted for him he is merely (merely!) an extraordinary man. Only those very same fuddy-duddies bound for history's dustbin would add the once-obligatory "who happens to be black" to that declaration, such a phrase revealing the biases of its utterer simply by being uttered.

No, the sad sacks in the imploding GOP simply have absolutely no idea why the Democrats rolled over them in the last two elections and, more to the point, what is that je ne sais quoi about Barack Obama that helped drive 2008's massive victory. They look at Barack Obama and see a black man first, so they assume everyone else does too and voted accordingly. They assume everyone else's soul must be as disfigured as their own. What they fail to realize and, judging from their behavior the last week and a half since BHO took the oath of office, probably won't ever realize even as they fade into the mists of antiquity, is that it wasn't Barack Hussein Obama and the Democrats who rolled over them.

It was history.

Shameful GOP Voting - The Ledbetter Act

I missed this a couple of days ago and thank the Rude Pundit for reminding me.

On Tuesday, Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, named after a Goodyear tire factory supervisor who only after nearing retirement, found out she was paid less than men in her position. She filed a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court. In their infinite wisdom, the SCOTUS disregarded the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and ruled against Ledbetter citing that a statute of limitation, 180 days from the date that Goodyear first paid her less than her counterparts, had expired. In the Supreme Court's blind eyes of justice, she was 18½ years too late.

While congress attempted to pass a bill to overturn that decision, the George W. Bush White House opposed the bill and would have vetoed it. But the Obama White House thought otherwise and President Obama signed the bill into law on Thusday.

Equal work for equal pay, right? Well, at least some our Congressional Representatives still believe that to be the case. The Ledbetter Act past 250-177 in the House, and 61-36 in the Senate. Of those combined 316 yea votes, 97.5% came from Democrats. The Repubicans were of course looking out for the employer, afraid of lawsuits "decades" after the fact, even though the bill states that the statute of limitations is now 180 days from the last paycheck received, not the first. As Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski said, “If you don’t want to be sued, don’t discriminate.”

But what really galls me about the 213 combined votes against the bill is not the typical Republican thought of corporations first, although that's bad enough as it is. It's the fact that 16 female congresswomen voted against it. (There were no female senators that voted against it.)

Michele Bachmann, (Republican-Minnesota)
Judy Borg Biggert, (Republican-Illinois)
Marsha Blackburn, (Republican-Tennessee)
Mary Bono Mack, (Republican-California)
Shelley Moore Capito, (Republican-West Virginia)
Jo Ann Emerson, (Republican-Missouri)
Mary Fallin, (Republican-Oklahoma)
Virginia Foxx, (Republican-North Carolina)
Kay Granger, (Republican-Texas)
Lynn Jenkins, (Republican-Kansas)
Cynthia M. Lummis, (Republican-Wyoming)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, (Republican-Washington)
Candice Miller, (Republican-Michigan)
Sue Myrick, (Republican-North Carolina)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (Republican-Florida)
Jean Schmidt, (Republican-Ohio)
Virginia (Ginny) Brown-Waite, (Republican-Florida) DID NOT VOTE

Way to look out for equal rights, huh?

I respectfully submit that these women immediately put forth a bill that would cut their salaries by the same percentage that Lilly Ledbetter was shorted for her nineteen years of service to the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. If they don't believe that Ledbetter should have been receiving equal pay for the same work her male colleagues were doing, then these female Republican representatives should get paid less for the same obstructionist work of their male Republican counterparts.

Out Of Starbucks!

Damn! My yummy Caramel Macchiato cup runneth dry. It was a Grande too! How will I go on?!

Advice To Fiscal Conservatives

Republicans found religion when it came down to voting on President Obama's Economic Recovery Bill. After multiple meetings with the President, inclusion of their ideas in the package (if you care to call their rote tax cuts an idea) and removal of what they deemed objectionable programs in the bill, the Republicans in the House of Representatives decided to vote against it anyway. All of them. All 177 Representatives. They thought there was too much stimulus in the stimulus package.

These so-called fiscal conservatives, who helped George W. Bush set a 50 year record for the National Debt are all of a sudden worried about paying too much for a stimulus package while standing on the edge of a cliff, as more and more of us fall into the unemployment chasm week by week.

So I have some advice for these born again fiscal conservatives. When the bill passes (and it will pass despite the obstructionism) take a pass on the money. If you're really worried about the cost of the package when it comes time to dole out the stimulus, don't stand in line. After all, if you are truly representing your constituents I'm sure they will understand, so there's no need to worry about your job come election time as the unemployment in your individual districts reaches double digits.

For the time being I'm going to take them at their word. After all, the Republican Party wouldn't dare play games with something this important for a political ploy, would they?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Mere Senator

I'm currently watching today's White House press conference and I've now caught Press Secretary Robert Gibbs twice use the phrase, "a mere Senator."

"The president talked about this when he was a mere senator and a candidate..."

How soon before everyone jumps on this as an insult to the US Senate or arrogance on the part of Obama that he no longer considers himself "a mere senator"?

Recovery Bill Passes Without Obstructionists

Well, we all now know what the new, little game is for the leaderless Greasy Obstructionist Party. And it's pretty much the same, old game that they've played because... well, they can't think of anything new.

President Obama's Economic Recovery Bill (H.R.1) wasn't good enough for the Republicans. They cited it didn't spend enough soon enough to jump start the economy according to their non-existent CBO report, although the actual CBO report showed something different. What was the answer? Tax cuts. So Obama obliged in the interest of bipartisanship.

Then there was this nasty little business of $200 million in family planning. How in the hell was that going to stimulate the economy? Contraceptives? Phooey! So, ignoring the fact that preventing sexually transmitted diseases saves the economy tens of billions of dollars yearly, President Obama asked the Democrats to remove the family planning provision and save it for a later date, and they obliged in the the interest of bipartisanship.

What about grass? Yes, at this point I'd like to get high too, but I'm talking about resodding the National Mall at a cost of $21 million. Could create some jobs, right? Perhaps the Parks Department could hire a lot of extra help, or maybe they could contract it out and employ who knows how many people (1,000? 3,000? 5,000?) to give a much needed facelift to our capital; to the place where 16 million tourists come from all over the world to enjoy our monuments and museums; to the space we use to honor our national heroes. But the myopic GOP thinks that it's wasteful spending. So Obama obliged in the interest of bipartisanship.

President Obama met with leaders of the Republican Party three times in the last week in an effort to get votes from the other side of the aisle - three times. The same number of times that George W. Bush met with Democratic leaders over his entire eight years. All this was in an effort of post partisanship. So how did the Republicans in the House thank President Obama for including them in the process? Not one Republican voted for H.R. 1. Not. One. Vote.

Ultimately, the thanks the GOP gave to the President was to water down the bill with more tax cuts and less stimulus spending - now if the whole thing shits the bed, Republicans can say they were against it all along, when in fact they contributed to weakening it while making believe they were honoring the spirit of bipartisanship. And then they went to the White House and drank Obama's liquor anyway.

At this point, the partisan in me wants the President to shut down the bill and start again with the bill he wanted, including the family planning money, including the National Mall money, including everything he compromised away and to reduce the tax cuts that the Republicans insisted he add. If he's not going to get any Republican votes, then fuck 'em, right? Why should they get any say if they're going to reject it out of hand anyway? And has anyone heard any idea on the Republican side of the aisle, just one idea, that would help the stimulus package besides tax cuts? Anyone?

According to Moody's (featured on Rachel Maddow's show last night) for every government dollar spent on Food Stamps, it generates $1.73 in stimulative spending. Infrastructure? $1 in spending crates $1.59 in stimulus. As opposed to tax cuts, $1 will get you a $1.03 return and the lovely corporate tax cut? $1 in corporate tax cuts will get you $0.30 on the dollar - negative territory. But tax cuts is all the GOP will say when you pull the string on their back. Mortgage crisis? Tax cuts. Unemployment up? Tax cuts. Economy going in the shitter after eight years of tax cuts? ... Tax cuts.

Rachel Maddow and Don Manzullo

Here's the Maddow clip from last night in which she interviews Representative Don Manzullo (R-IL) who voted against the bill. See if you can make any sense out of what he's saying when it came to the auto industry and car vouchers.

I want to get this right. Here is Manzullo's quote:
"How do you 'prime the pump' to restart, for example, manufacturing? I've got a Chrysler facility in my district. The big problem is lack of orders. So here's what you do, it's something very, very simple. You take a $5,000 voucher, you go to your Chrysler dealer or dealer of your choice, you buy the car. You knock 25% off that car and you can buy a nice Jeep Patriot for less than $300 a month. We have to restart the channels of the supply line and manufacturing..."

Huh? So, you're going to send a family of four who makes $30,000 a year, or better yet, someone who's just lost their job a $5,000 voucher to go out and buy a car and their incentive is that they only pay less than $300 a month on a car they can't afford in the first place?

"... You don't make jobs when jobs already exist save for the lack of orders. There are enough people in this country today that would like to buy a new car. We went from 17 million new cars down to 10 million new cars. If we could get up to 15 million new cars, that's $75 billion in vouchers, that would (triggle? trickle?) over a trillion dollars, and that way people go back to work. There is nothing in this bill that puts people back to work."

Congressman Manzullo seems like a nice guy, but is it me or does he have no idea what the fuck he is talking about? He wants people to drive their new Jeep Patriot to a job that doesn't exist? Did I get that right?! He's looking at this completely backwards because he's worried about the manufacturing jobs in his district due to lack of demand for the product. The reason there is lack of demand is the lack of jobs generating the money for those people to then buy the cars and increase the demand, thereby putting those manufacturing jobs back on the clock.

He thinks there's enough people out there who can still buy a car with a little push. He forgets that unemployment is currently at 7.5% and 8.2% in his home state, and it'll probably get worse before it gets better. He's forgotten that 2.6 million people lost their jobs just in 2008 alone. But there should still be enough people out there who still want to buy a car, right? And a gas guzzler at that. As long as those jobs come back to his district, it's all good.

Using his analogy of "priming the pump," Manzullo wants to pour stimulus into the carburetor to get the engine running instead of pouring it into the gas tank to keep the engine running for a much longer period of time. And this is what Maddow argues in my favorite part of the exchange as she's getting under the good Congressman's skin in the nicest way possible.
Maddow: "The idea that family planning programs, putting down grass on the National Mall, all of these things that you guys have demonized, are in fact things that would put people back to work. That's the problem here."

Manzullo: "Wait a second, I am not demonizing putting grass back to work. (Maddow smiles) Items should be budgeted and then you should have items that are stimulus that go... in, in, in... the spending for stimulus is off budget, it goes directly to the deficit. Based upon your definition, I don't mean to argue with you but I'm having fun with you, every, every item of spending can be stimulus, that means you don't worry about paying for it, that means you don't worry about budget, that means then $11 trillion in debt. This stimulus package will add $365 billion in interest over the next 10 years bringing it up to $1.16 trillion."
Asked whether he would ever vote for a stimulus bill, Manzullo responds, "You bet, if it was modest..." to which Rachel replies, "We don't have a modest problem, sir."

Big problems demand big solutions. Hopefully this stimulus package will be "fixed" and large enough despite the Republican tinkering to get us moving in the right direction after initially taking it to the wrong mechanics. Then we can wave goodbye to the Republican Party though the rear view mirror.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who the hell is this Fraulein person?

Guest-posted by Fraulein

It was the winter of 2004, and my full-time job was taking care of my newborn baby girl. This was disorienting on many levels, partly because I had been working in a fairly high-stress legal marketing job practically up until the day the nice people at the hospital managed to break my water. I had worked as a professional writer--first as a newspaper and magazine reporter, then later as a corporate communications and marketing writer--nearly non-stop since graduating from college in the early 1990s. Then, suddenly, with the arrival of this new little person, it all came to a screeching halt.

The days of hanging out with my lovely and enchanting Peanut (as I call her on my blog, Purple Ink) were amazingly satisfying in so many ways, but I really missed writing. I especially missed the push and pull of conversation with individuals who did not spend much of the day spitting up on my shoulder. And George W. Bush was giving me nightmares of epic proportions. There's nothing like new parenthood to bring the ills of the world into sharp relief. In those cold, dark days, when many of my fellow Americans still thought the Iraq war was just awesome, I needed people to commiserate with. Even if said commiserating was purely virtual.

And with that, Purple Ink was born. I proposed to write purely what I liked, and to tackle, in no particular order, the topics I was most interested in: motherhood; the sorry state of journalism; literature and pop culture; and the horror that was the Bush regime. Given that I've had to simultaneously juggle parenthood and wife-hood, along with, in the last couple of years, a new full-time job, I've never managed to post on my blog as often as I would if, say, I won the lottery tomorrow. But I keep trying. As with most things in life, I think it's the effort that counts.

Since Carl and I stumbled across each other's thoughts on the Intertubes, we decided we would try a little experiment in cross-posting. I'll be hosting some of his excellent posts on Purple Ink, and some of my stuff will show up here. If you like what you see, give us a shout and let us know!

Gingrey Caves To Dittoheads

Phil Gingrey is a typical Republican coward. That's probably the worst insult I can hurl at the man.

In a post yesterday, I complimented Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey (and by "complimented" I mean "agreed with his statement") for his rationale in putting Rush Limbaugh's latest outbursts in perspective. It was a pretty innocuous and realistic statement.

"'s easy if you're Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don't have to try to do what's best for your people and your party. You know you're just on these talk shows and you're living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn't be or wouldn't be good leaders, they're not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell."
Less than 24 hours later, after a right wingnut pirahna feeding frenzy, Gingrey has apologized for his comments.

" 2008 The National Journal ranked me the #1 most conservative Member of the House of Representatives.

As long as I am in the Congress, I will continue to fight for and defend our sacred values. I have actively opposed every bailout, every rebate check, every so called “stimulus.” And on so many of these things, I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh. Regardless of what yesterday’s headline may have read, I never told Rush to back off. I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives—that was not my intent.

... Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans—myself included—turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination..."
So, Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA), is such a weasel, he can't stand by the one moment of lucidity, probably the one honest statement to come out of his mouth in his six years in Washington, the most recent of which he was voted Most Conservative House member. Instead of choosing to rely on his record, on his National Journal accolades, he pissed in his pants the second he was flooded with phone calls impugning him for daring to suggest that it was easy to criticize when not in a leadership role, like Limbaugh and Hannity and the Almighty Newt Gingrich. How dare he insult the great Rush Limbaugh! Gingrey wriggled like the worm that he is and kowtowed to the frenetic freaks on the right that called his office to voice their anger. And not only that, he admitted listening to, and being inspired by Limbaugh and Hannity. Showing his true color (yellow), Gingrey begged for forgiveness and his political life, apologized and crawled back under his rock.

This comes on the heels of yesterday's Hardball with Chris Matthews. Matthews hosted idiots Pat Buchanan and Heidi Harris who are flummoxed and have no clue why President Obama would make such a grievous error as to give credence to Limbaugh when suggesting to the GOP that they shouldn't listen to Rush if they want to accomplish anything.

Well, judging by Gingrey's poopy pants and his apology, it looks like President Obama was correct again! The more these Republican "strategists" open their mouths to criticize, the more they look like fools. Buchanan should never miss the opportunity to keep his mouth shut. And Harris was two weeks late with the "mob museums" GOP talking point.

I'm sure there are many more Gingreys in Congress who are looking for someone to take the helm of their rudderless ship, and for now it seems like the Republican Party's de facto leader really is Rush Limbaugh. The more they listen to that bloated gasbag, the more they will marginalize their party and further fall into obscurity and irrelevance.

(H/T Greg Sargent)

Is Obama Playing Limbaugh?

There's been plenty of talk for the last few days about President Obama and Rush Limbaugh. First it was Limbaugh's idiotic diatribe hoping that Obama fails and rejecting the notion that other less extreme Republicans are defending Obama and hoping for his success because he's a black man and it's the politically correct/affirmative action thing to do. I suppose it had nothing to do with the fact that the nation is currently in the toilet.

Then it was President Obama meeting with Congressional Republicans and suggesting that they shouldn't listen to Limbaugh if they want to get anything done. Rush Limbaugh enjoyed the attention and the talking head pundits were wondering why Obama would give Limbaugh such credence.

But it would seem that there is yet another possible scenario in play. Obama is baiting Rush, not the other way around. And so far it looks like GOP mouthpieces are heeding Obama's advice and possibly marginalizing Limbaugh in the process.

I never thought I'd agree with Phil Gingrey (YEAH, I KNOW!) but here's his comment:

"I think that our leadership, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are taking the right approach," Gingrey said. "I mean, it's easy if you're Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don't have to try to do what's best for your people and your party. You know you're just on these talk shows and you're living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn't be or wouldn't be good leaders, they're not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell."
Media critic Michael Wolff thinks Obama got under Limbaugh's skin by having a dinner with conservative journalists and pundits and conspicuously excluding poor, misunderstood Rush.

So is Obama playing Limbaugh like a big, fat fiddle? I don't know if there's any validity to the theory, but Obama is a shrewd character, and every time he was doubted during the campaign, he kept proving the doubters wrong. I'm wondering what the next step will be in the Rush Wars. It's silly, but kind of exciting instead of listening to the continual zombie drone of "more tax cuts."

(H/T HuffPo)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike Dies at 76

NY TIMES: John Updike, the kaleidoscopically gifted writer whose quartet of Rabbit Angstrom novels highlighted so vast and protean a body of fiction, verse, essays and criticism as to earn him comparisons with Henry James and Edmund Wilson among American men of letters, died today at a hospice outside Boston. He was 76 and lived in Beverly Farms, Mass.

The REAL CBO Report

According to Think Progress, this much ballyhooed Congressional Budget Office report that was used to criticize the Obama Recovery Bill by Republicans was cited 81 times in the last six days by the talking heads on television and in print; they criticized that spending was initally slow and that only 35% of the package would be spent by 2011.

There's just one problem with that: the CBO report they were citing doesn't exist. Rather, the media and Republican opposition to the bill were citing a partial report that didn't include the planned tax cuts, unemployment benefit extensions and numerous other factors. Even after Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained that everyone was citing an incomplete report in his press conference on Friday, inaccurate reporting continued on the news.

New Meet The Press host David Gregory used the CBO report in criticism on Sunday morning and I personally witnessed Nora O'Donnell on MSNBC ask about the partial report when questioning Congressman Chris Van Hollen late Monday afternoon! But I suppose if it isn't scandalous it doesn't sell, so why bother with accuracy?

Well guess what? The CBO actually released a complete report Monday evening which shows that, just as the Obama administration has been saying, about ¾ of the stimulus package would be injected into the economy within the first 18 months.

From the CBO report (emphasis mine):

This is the first cost estimate that CBO has prepared for H.R. 1 in its entirety. A previous preliminary estimate that has been widely cited addressed only the budgetary impacts of an earlier version of the provisions contained in Division A, at the request of the House Committee on Appropriations.

CBO has since made small changes to our estimates of the portion of the bill that was included in that preliminary estimate, mostly to reflect amendments to the legislation since we prepared the last estimate. Based on information provided by the committee and discussions with numerous state officials, we also made small technical changes to that earlier estimate.
I wonder how quickly the very serious mainstream media will report on this, and if they'll mention it 81 times in six days? I'm also sure the GOP will ignore it while tending to their fudge, since it doesn't fit into their agenda.

I mean, think about it. All we've heard the latest cheap Republican talking point is the expenditure of $200 million for Medicaid to be used for contraception and all the hysteria from the right asking how something like that can stimulate the economy. They are completely ignoring the fact that education, prevention of STDs and unwanted pregnancies can help in reducing governmental financial responsibilities later on. But the word "contraception" is a touchstone for their religious right base, even though the money planned for this program is only 0.00024% of the total package.

What's the GOP solution? More tax cuts. You know, because it's worked so well before.

(H/T Bob Cesca)

Monday, January 26, 2009

choke on this

guest-posted by Armadillo Joe

I would have ordered one of these, but they have been unfortunately recalled because the Fallopian Tubes proved to be something of a choke hazard to the under-6 set. Who would have thought that a plushy uterus would be such a problem?

Well, my second favorite it the plushy pancreas, with the "heart of gold" a second runner-up.


Geithner Passes in Senate

MSNBC reports Timothy Geithner has passed the Senate vote for his confirmation as Treasury Secretary by a vote of 60-34. Four members of the Democratic Caucus voted nay.

More Journalistic Serious Questioning

Chuck Todd: "The last question that Robert Gibbs received today was about Wesley Snipes. A reporter said, 'Wesley Snipes never would have had to go to jail had he been nominated to be Treasury Secretary."

You know because Wesley Snipes' willful failure to file Federal income tax returns is the same exact thing as Geithner's situation. Very serious news media we have in the White House Press Corps.

ADDING... On the bright side, you have people like Paul Krugman giving us some actual straight talk. Bad Faith Economics

The Emotional Dick Cavett

Dick Cavett writes up a nice opinion piece about his Inauguration Day feelings with a bit of a tangent on his emotional outpourings when listening to certain music. But I would be remiss if I didn't include these words for posterity in this space.

I felt bad when George Bush was booed.

But only briefly. My sympathy for that man has a half-life of about four seconds.

There was a surprising number of outpourings of sympathy for his having to sit there and, as it was too-often described, “take it on the chin.” Was there ever a chin more deserving of taking it?

“You have to feel sorry for him,” someone cooed. “No. You do not!” I shouted at the screen. I know he “tried” and he “did what he thought was right.” But so does the incompetent surgeon.

What does that excuse?

His brief discomfort “sitting there” can’t have been less endurable than the discomfort of the young soldier describing on the news how he watched helplessly as his gut-shot buddy bled to death on the sands the smirking Texan sent him to.


And a hearty sayonara to that other fellow.

Do freshman philosophy classes nowadays debate updated versions of the age-old questions? Like, how could a merciful God allow AIDS, childhood cancers, tsunamis and Dick Cheney?

William Kristol's Last New York Times Column

William Kristol issued his final column for the New York Times today and the collective sigh of relief could be heard across progressive America wherever you stood. However, Kristol, who was most known for being wrong pretty much every time he opened his mouth or put pen to paper, did his best to outdo himself. I suppose he figured since he was going down in flames, he may as well just vomit out any outrageous thing that came to mind.

This one paragraph alone had me in stitches:

Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, conservatives of various sorts, and conservatisms of various stripes, have generally been in the ascendancy. And a good thing, too! Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family. Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world. Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of.
Tell me you don't have tears rolling down your cheeks after reading that! He does admit that there have been "some regrets." Really, Bill? Do tell! He doesn't, but qualifies conservative ascendancy was due to the timing of liberalism's weakness in the 60s and 70s.

The main point of his column is the question of whether Obama "can save liberalism." The only reason I know that is because that's the title of his column. There's really nothing in the column to suggest the trouble with liberalism and how it needs saving, despite the fact that the GOP has been trounced in the last two elections. But judging by his track record, the last thing I'd want is any advice from Kristol about anything, especially how to save liberalism.

My other favorite line in this article from the man who was wrong on Iraq every step of the way, goes on to say how Obama's inaugural speech was "unabashedly pro-American and implicitly conservative." Did you expect it to be anti-American? And implicitly conservative? It all depends on how Kristol is defining "conservative," doesn't it? If he's going by the last eight years, then phrases like "we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord" and "We'll restore science to its rightful place"* and "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals" are a direct repudiation of Kristol's previous "implicitly conservative" administration.

Kristol also seems to have trouble with Obama's only quote not being attributed to Thomas Paine, as if Paine is some kind of pariah and Obama didn't want people to know that it was a quote from "The Crisis."

For some reason, Obama didn’t identify the author of “these timeless words” — the only words quoted in the entire speech. He’s Thomas Paine, and the passage comes from the first in his series of Revolutionary War tracts, “The Crisis.” Obama chose to cloak his quotation from the sometimes intemperate Paine in the authority of the respectable George Washington.
Please, Bill, continue. Are you on to something? Why does Obama do this, Bill? What is your analysis? Of course, Kristol doesn't say. He just let's it hang out there. But that's always been Kristol's modus operandi. Throw something out there that sounds unbecoming, almost insulting, but for no apparent reason except to cast doubt on the subject and perhaps for plausible deniability when he's called on it. Ooh! Paine was "intemperate," calling for revolution against the evil British, and since Obama chose Paine's words, we'll have to keep a keen eye on how he governs. Sometimes I think Kristol literally takes a crap on a sheet of 8½" x 11" paper and turns it in as his op-ed piece.

Today I have a spring in my step, a song in my heart and a smile on my face because this is what I read at the end of Kristol's New York Times op-ed page: "This is William Kristol’s last column." And there was much rejoicing... Hooray!

* On a side note, who thought that they'd ever hear the words, "we'll restore science to its rightful place" coming from the mouth of a US President in 21st century America?

Sunday, January 25, 2009


guest posted by Armadillo Joe

George Stephanopoulos' Round Table this morning had five guests. One of those guests is a Nobel Prize winner and the only voice on the panel from the left. The other four range all the way from...
...a semi-accomplished journalist who, prior to butting heads with Bush43, was most notable for his eyebrows to...

...the pedigreed scion of a wealthy and powerful Louisiana political clan with an unremarkable career as a journalist and no other discernable accomplishments unrelated to her family connections to...

...a striving, middlebrow quasi-intellectual -- slightly more journalistically accomplished than the snotty patrician from Antebellum Dixie -- and an unrepentant apologist for the excesses of his economic superiors whose only redeeming quality appears to be that his love for the game of baseball drives a dislike for the New York Yankees but whose most meaningful public act to date is switching from a bow-tie to a straight tie (presumably to put cravattial distance between him and an unlettered little snot named Tucker) to...

...the poster-child for the abject failure of our nation's compensation system for the modern CEO class -- a woman who once steered a formerly venerable brand almost into the ground but was nevertheless rewarded with a golden parachute that would make other over-compensated fellow CEO-bloodsuckers blush with shame (before saying yes anyway) -- but was also somehow still considered a weighty enough person on economic issues to not only advise on a (failed) presidential campaign but also to successfully parlay what should have been yet another career-ending black mark on the resume into an opinion-making spot on a Sunday morning news magazine to spout self-serving GOP-HQ-issued platitudes like they're immutable axioms of the fundamental structure of the universe.
These are the people that the "reasonable" members of The Washington Village, our precious Versailles on the Hudson, deem fit to sit in judgement on the first week of an Obama presidency.

Egads, I hate this country's ruling class.

Music Break! Antonio Carlos Jobim & Elis Regina

Today is the birthday of Brazilian songwriter and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of the founders and perhaps the most influential creators of the Bossa Nova style. He would have been 82.

His most popular song is The Girl From Ipanema, but one of my all time favorites is Águas de Março (Waters of March). Not only is it a great song, but also a fine piece of poetry. You can view the composer's rewritten english lyrics here, but a more accurate translation of the original Portuguese lyrics can be found here. The performance is by the late Elis Regina.

Who Runs The NRCC Website?

This is seriously pathetic - The National Republican Congressional Committee's website which sports an angry Nancy Pelosi photo on their home page wants to "Take Back The Majority!"

As you click around and look at outdated talking points, like the Congressional Budget Office report that poo-poos the Recovery Bill currently being debated, even though it's been announced by the CBO that the report in question doesn't exist, you'll eventually come across this on their "Issues Page":

Thanks to Republican economic policies, the U.S. economy is robust and job creation is strong.

Republican tax cuts are creating jobs and continuing to strengthen the economy, yet there is still more to do so that every American who wants a job can find one.
Seriously? These jamokes are asking for donations on this website and they can't bother to update their webpages? Well, let me correct myself. As soon as the NRCC realized their, for lack of a better word I'll call it a "gaffe," and found out everyone else knew about it, they removed this statement from their Economy section under the Issues Page. Actually, they removed EVERYTHING from their Issues Page. That was their update. I suppose they're completely happy and don't have any issues. But if you use their Search function and type in "Economy," it'll show up as the fifth choice and TA-DA! There it is! Here's a screen capture (in case they try removing it again):

(Click for full size)

This party is in complete disarray. What else would you call it when Eric Cantor is the Number Two man for the GOP in the House of Representatives? Can anyone in the Republican Party, for once, think of something that would actually help the economy, or the mortgage crisis, or the thinned military situation, anything, without using the words "tax cuts"? Can they come up with anything? The answer is "No."

According to Greg Sargent, NRCC spokesman Ken Spain issued a response to the intertube laughter when clicking on their site:

“The site is currently under construction. We are looking forward to relaunching the site and fostering a discussion on how Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues’ proposal to spend their way out of this recession is absurd at best and financially ruinous at worst.”
Their answer to the Recovery Bill is not to come up with ideas other than "tax cuts," because that's worked so well these past eight years, but to issue a negative statement criticizing Pelosi and the "New New Deal" that the Congress is still working on and trying to include the GOP at the grown up's table in the process.

Oh, Republicans, is there nothing you can't screw up?

(H/T Bob Cesca)